IN addition to the old and stale heads of indictment, which were common, we suppose, to England as to Wales, we have been lately introduced in the Principality to a strange and singularly unscrupulous charge against the ancient historic Church of the country. It has been broadly asserted that she is an 'alien' Church. It might have been believed that such a charge lay beyond the bounds of possibility for anyone to make; but it has nevertheless been made, and made, too, by some men who wish to be accepted as leaders of public opinion and national progress, and it is now repeated constantly on the platform and in the press as an undoubted truth, as it is certainly found to be one of the most effective means of rousing the animosity of those among us who would otherwise be indisposed to join in any revolutionary changes.
Some of our readers may perhaps have seen the feeble justification of the charge made by Mr. Stuart Rendel, M.P., in the Contemporary Review some time ago. It is remarkable that he and the principal [183/184] agents of the Liberation Society, who have been most active in fomenting and directing the agitation against the Welsh Church, are either Englishmen or Scotchmen, who must be practically unacquainted with our history and condition, and comparatively indifferent to our hereditary and distinctive possessions. The astounding assertion on their part that our Church is 'an alien' can be attributed, without any great breach of charity, to pure ignorance, or a callousness of feeling which would immolate the past, with all its rich stores of historical associations, on the altar of expediency and party politics. But by the very confident air, not to say the strange effrontery, with which it is made--and made, too, at a time when the old landmarks of sentiment and principle are violently and suddenly changed, as in one night, and a spirit of opposition to existing institutions is abroad--it is well calculated to make an impression on the popular mind, and to produce a considerable amount of mischief.
Undoubtedly a strenuous effort is being made at present to spread the erroneous notion in question among the masses; and the effort must necessarily be indeed both strenuous and persevering before a lodgment for such a notion can be effected among the honest and intelligent part of our people. For not only must the whole current of history be ignored or contravened, but the Welshman's ingrained [184/185] habitudes of thought and feeling must be changed as well. For the Welshman in his genuine state, and when undepraved by ideas and influences that come to him from external and alien sources, loves to dwell on the past and identify himself and his concerns with a long line of ancestral descent. This is evinced, as we need not add, by what has been considered by many as his inordinate love of family lineage, by his old-world ways and customs, and by his long and steady attachment to the old British tongue when, at the same time, he cannot but feel it an incumbrance on his commerce with the rest of the kingdom, and an impediment on his children's intellectual and social advancement. And this feeling he carries with him in reference to the Church. Whatever faults might have been alleged against its administration, all sections of our people have always, until recently, concurred in the common belief of its great antiquity, and of its identity, in most essential points, with the Church of their forefathers.
The agitators for disestablishment fasten on the designation by which the Church is popularly known. They direct attention to the fact that she is not called 'The Church of Wales,' but the 'Church of England in Wales,' as if that alone proved the validity of the accusation. They thrust this into the forefront, and infer from it a train of invidious and humiliating recollections and incidents. But what it does prove [185/186] to every candid mind is their own eager desire to avoid a deliberate discussion of the matter on its merits, and their wholesome dread of touching on the heart and centre of the whole controversy. It shows to what shifts the adversary is driven when he summons to his aid the discordant and discredited voice of passion and provincial prejudice. It is, indeed, an additional illustration of the proverbial abuse of the aggrieved party when no other resource is available to his opponent. But in connection with this particular ground of contention we would beg leave to state for ourselves in Wales, that not a Churchman among us would be inclined, on account of such a reproach, to disregard, or for an instant to forego, the honoured designation of our Church, which it has now borne for centuries, as the Church of England in the Principality. We claim--and we are ready to vindicate the claim--that we are a part, and an integral part, of the great and glorious English Church, and it is our fervent prayer that we may always remain in that happy condition, united in fortune as in faith, in common work and inalienable affection, and that no convulsion, social, political, or religious, may ever occur to sever the sacred bond.
Instead of this unity which at present subsists, and has subsisted for so many generations between the Welsh and English dioceses, forming a ground of complaint, least of all matter for an incriminating [186/187] charge, it should be a cause of joy and of the deepest gratitude, and every effort should be made to keep it whole and inviolate. By weakening the bond for any purpose whatever, and loosening one single tie, even the secular, which may serve at present to hold us together, we should not only be unfaithful to fraternal obligations and the true welfare of our common country, but also running counter to the best hopes and aspirations of Christendom. Even the late Mr. Spurgeon, the renowned Baptist pastor, who in his younger days was looked upon as an exponent of the dissidence of Dissent, had latterly expressed himself, in pathetic language, as utterly weary of religious divisions, and as yearning for the time when 'all Christians might blend in manifest unity.'
It has sometimes been stated that the union of the four Welsh dioceses with the Southern Province of England dates only from the reign of Edward I., and is a badge of conquest. What really occurred then was not the ecclesiastical, but the political, union between the two countries, which had been going on in a fragmentary way and with intermittent steps for a long time before. It was, we repeat, the successful completion of many previous efforts at effecting a political union that was the work of that reign. Wales was repeatedly brought under tribute to the earlier English kings. Its richest and most populous districts were occupied and subdued by the Normans [187/188] in the reign of William the Conqueror, and were held by the Norman Marchers in tenure to him and his successors. The political union became complete and irreversible when the whole country was annexed to the Crown of England, and for several competing chieftains (who used to disturb and harry the country with their endless feuds) was substituted one sovereign lord common to England and Wales; and this took place, as everybody knows, in Edward I's reign. But the ecclesiastical incorporation--which, like the political, was a gradual process, and had been prepared and matured by a long series of close and intimate relations--had already taken place. It took place at least as early as the year 1112 A.D., when all the Welsh Bishops submitted to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The legalized recognition by the State of England was the only change that affected the Church by the annexation of the country in the time of Edward I.
But should we admit the full force of the argument in favour of the later date (King Edward's reign), we should still be in a position to show the groundlessness of the charge in its legal and constitutional, as well as religious, aspect. For the admission would involve the conclusion that the present Church in Wales has occupied the same political and religious status for six hundred years, and occupied it without a break in the descending line, and (with the [188/189] exception of one brief interval, when she was the victim of ruthless violence) without any default in her representative character as the national Church. Such a long period--longer, as the reader knows, than the period of the full and final establishment of the Jewish Church, when all the tribes were placed under one divinely ordained monarchy, and remained so till the Babylonish captivity--assuredly offers a sufficient guarantee that she cannot with any propriety be called an alien. At any tribunal where truth could be heard the claims of all other rivals would be barred out; but in the Principality we know of no rival or claimant who could show the least colourable competency in opposition. To the Patristic and Mediæval Church, as well as to the Church of the Reformation, she can be the only residuary legatee.
Some persons, no doubt, would here point to the Roman Catholics. But, not to mention the process of development, or rather the process of endless change and miserable deterioration, which has been recklessly set in action in their Communion, culminating, as it did at last, in the famous Council of A.D. 1870, when the Immaculate Conception and the personal Infallibility of the Pope were voted as necessary and incontrovertible dogmas of the faith, and thus confirming by one irrevocable act the common opinion that the Church of Rome is other than she .was, we can answer that practically that Church has [189/190] no adherents among us. So far as the natives are concerned--and it is they who should primarily be considered in this view--the Church of Rome has long disappeared from among us. Such adherents as it reckons in Wales are found in large seaports, such as Cardiff, or on the hills where iron and mining-works are carried on, such as Dowlais; and they are almost wholly composed of Irish immigrants.
Other persons would probably point to Welsh Nonconformity, which, it must be confessed, is always in presence, and has latterly assumed, but with a considerable deduction, an attitude of extreme hostility. It would be a waste of time to prove, what we presume is well known, that this is a product which is indeed alien, and not native to the soil. In its origin it was unquestionably an importation. It is also comparatively of recent growth. It found here an uncongenial clime, and only made its home among us when forced by the factitious influences of political and social agitation and strife. And even then it could never have flourished, we believe, to anything like the extent that we at present see it, were it not for the almost insurmountable difficulties with which the Church had to contend in the discharge of her functions. Among these difficulties were her abject poverty, especially in South Wales; the immense size and scattered population of many of her most important parochial cures; the fact of having to minister in [190/191] two languages; and, we must add, of having to deal with the unreasonable prejudices that existed between what has been euphoniously called the 'masses and the classes.' It was from beyond Offa's Dyke that Welsh Nonconformity sprung. Our earliest Nonconformists were Puritanical clergymen, such as William Wroth, Vicar of Llanvaches, Monmouthshire, and William Erbury, Vicar of St. Mary, Cardiff. Our first Dissenting congregations were formed by them when they seceded or were ejected from the ministry in the Church. We do not believe that a dozen such congregations could be found in the whole of Wales in the last years of King Charles I's reign.* [* The late eminent patriot and philanthropist, Sir Thomas Phillips, was inclined to believe that there were only three Dissenting congregations in Wales at the beginning of the Civil War. See his work on Wales, p. 109.] It was under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, when extraordinary efforts were made by him and his confederates to exterminate the Church in the Principality, that these congregations multiplied (all the offices of the Church at the time, it should be remembered, being suppressed, and the clergy cruelly persecuted), and Dissent may be said to have taken root in the country. It separated into three leading sects--the Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist. The Presbyterians soon adopted, like their English brethren, what they were pleased to call free and rational views [191/192] of religion, and gradually lapsed into stark Socinianism. The other two--the Baptist and Independent sects--still survive, and, judging from their own published accounts, are in a fairly prosperous state, but are considerably dependent for their supply of intellectual fare, and even of their religious tenets, on their English allies. And the same external support is as much needed in the shape of monetary aid, and is freely and generously rendered by the same faithful allies, and is duly appreciated by the recipients. But into whatever form Welsh Dissent had cast itself, it is noteworthy that it had lost its hold on our countrymen until it was revived by the advent of Methodism.
Now the Methodists, as our readers are doubtless aware, were long reluctant to separate from the Church. They considered themselves for years in no other light than the skirmishing wing of the main army of the Church, who volunteered for the special service of awakening and reforming the ignorant and supine masses. A thousand pities that they were not officered and trained and put in the field under proper episcopal sanction, and with the hearty goodwill of the whole Church! But separation was finally decided on, and the Calvinistic Methodists (who now, we believe, outnumber any other single Dissenting denomination) appeared as a distinct sect in A.D. 1810, under the guidance of the Rev. Thos. Charles, of Bala, one of the founders of the British and Foreign [192/193] Bible Society, whose real convictions, we are told, were overpowered by the pressure of the lay readers. The older members of the Methodist body still largely share in the feelings of affectionate attachment professed towards the Church by Mr. Charles and his immediate followers; but the younger members, who seem to mix more and more in the political movements of the day, and to care less for the unobtrusive but deep and unimpeached piety of their fathers, do not.* [* Articles on this subject appeared in The Churchman some four or five years ago, written by my late friend, Canon Powell Jones.]
In whatever category they may place themselves as fellow-helpers to the truth, and fellow-labourers in the kingdom that is not of this world, and however highly they may be rated when their worth will be fairly and finally assigned (and no one can deny that their services have been great and substantial), none of these various sects can seriously be put forward in competition with the Church in point of age, visible continuity, national prestige, wide acceptance with the rich as well as the poor, and amount of important and permanent benefits conferred on the country. We may affirm, at all hazards, that it is not she that is 'an alien' here.
In the face of these plain facts, and especially of the incorporation of the ecclesiastical parts, Welsh [193/194] and English, and of the final union of the two countries six hundred years ago, the position of the Church in Wales, in regard to the charge of being an alien, cannot be disconnected from the position of the Church in England. What can be alleged against one can be alleged against the other. What is true and apposite of one is true and apposite of both. We are the same Church, such as both English and Welsh may equally claim as the ancient Church of the land; inseparably the same as the one which our forefathers, on finding the several ecclesiastical portions apart, whilst there was an identity of doctrine and discipline, and on being irresistibly impelled by Christian duty to join the severed portions together, formed into the one organic Church which has come down to us all through the centuries with common historical events and associations, and, we may add, with common hereditary possessions. The Church in Wales is no more 'an alien' than the Church in England.
But, as Churchmen, we, in 'gallant little Wales,' profess to enjoy a slightly better position still in point of antiquity, and in the matter of protestation against the charge of alienism. We derive the descent of our branch of the Church from a time higher than its acceptance of the primacy and jurisdiction of the See of Canterbury, and even anterior to the origin
of the English Church in the southern parts under Augustine, when he received his memorable [194/195] mandate from Pope Gregory. The British Church existed before Norman, Dane, or Saxon crossed the Northern Seas and settled in any considerable numbers on the eastern shores of England, and even before the final departure of the imperial legions from the country for the purpose of defending Rome against the Goths in A.D. 411. Long before the appearance of Augustine in Kent she had built churches and established colleges and religious houses, and had already produced a martyr in St. Alban, a world-famous heresiarch in Morgan ('Pelagius'), several able and famous defenders of the faith once delivered unto the saints, a patron saint in Archbishop David, missionaries to the Picts and the Irish, and representatives at the Council of Arles (A.D. 314), and at the first General Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325). We must admit that conjecture and probability cannot be absent from the grounds of our judgment on the precise date of the earliest introduction of the Christian Church among our Celtic ancestors. Scholars and antiquarians have always differed on the subject, and, in the absence of authoritative records, must always necessarily differ. It may be impossible to satisfy Cardinal Newman's analytical requirements, and definitely state 'the how, the where, by whom, or the when,' as applied to its beginning; but the fact of its primitive origin, as early as the first centuries of the Christian era, rests, as it seems to us, on [195/196] irrefragable evidence. If the testimony of contemporaneous, and subsequent history, separate in its sources, but single in its attestation--diverging, it may be, in the accessories, but consentient on the main point, and fluctuating, perhaps, in its drift, but running at last in the same channel, as the unbroken traditions of a jealous and insulated people, the inhabitants of the country--can corroborate any event which has occurred in the past, and which has not occurred under our own immediate observation, then it is absolutely certain that Christianity reached our shores, and the Church was founded in Britain, at a very early period. And of this, the earliest branch of the Church Universal in the British Isles, the existing Church of England in Wales is the lineal descendant and the legitimate inheritrix. And yet, forsooth, she is termed 'an alien!' As well might they say that the Christian religion itself is alien to our race and country.
We wish we could adduce here, in support of our allegation, other evidences, such as may be found in literary and structural remains. These we could offer as indefeasible muniments and incontrovertible proofs in favour of the National Church's rightful claim to her title and position. But we are restrained and embarrassed, not by the scantiness of the supply, but by its very profusion. The native literature, it is true, does not, so far as we know, ascend very high in date; [196/197] but it covers a thousand years, and all the records we possess--the Laws of Howel Dda, the miscellaneous works of Giraldus Cambrensis, Liber Landaviensis, the Annals of Caradoc of Lancarvan, and others which we need not enumerate--present us with the essential features by which to recognise the old Church in the modern, and some of the necessary links to connect the past with the present. Other evidences of a more substantial kind, and more obvious to the public eye, such as ancient edifices and glebes, are found in every part of the Principality; and they testify to the Church's continuity as a living body, and to its long-settled occupation of the country. They are especially present in the Vale of Glamorgan, where this article is written. We say 'the Vale of Glamorgan' pace Mr. Carlyle, who tells us, in his 'Life of John Sterling,' that it is 'not properly a vale, there being only one range of mountains to it, even if one; but on the south no mountains at all, not even land, only the Bristol Channel.' In this district, whether properly called a 'vale' or a 'pleasant plain'--and the old British name of Bro* [* 'Bro Morganwg'--popularly known as the Vale of Glamorgan--refers to the low-lying land which gradually slopes down from the Glamorganshire hills to the sea.] certainly denotes the latter as well as does, indeed, its situation, lying as the district is found to lie on the sunny seaboard of the county of Glamorgan--the ecclesiastical [197/198] remains are abundant, as they are, indeed, in the whole of this diocese. We might refer to Llandaff, to Lantwit Major, and Lancarvan. These were celebrated sacred structures of the Welsh Church of the fifth and sixth centuries. She has never been dispossessed of them (except for one brief interval), and they are still in actual use and possession by the same National Church as existed then. At these and many other such hallowed spots in our midst, where the service of prayer and praise, the preaching of the Gospel, and the administration of the Holy Sacraments have never been discontinued any more than the life of the imperishable Church ceased, if the reproach was raised of her being 'an alien,' we might truly affirm that 'the stone would cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber should answer it. The vision indeed is written, and made plain upon tables, and he may run that readeth it.'
We should like, moreover, to dwell on the historical traditions that throng around the Church in Wales, and go to prove that instead of being an alien in her old mountain retirement, and among the children of the household which she reared and founded when she rescued our remote ancestors from the cruel and degrading dominion of Druidical superstition, her presence has been felt at every stage and turn of our national existence. Leaving her out of our calculation in the review of our history would be the same [198/199] as taking away the vital principle which guides, controls, and sweetens the corporeal frame and preserves it from decay and dissolution. This is equally true of us, as a people, in social and intellectual as in religious matters. But, interesting as the subject might be, we can now only refer to two or three circumstances which bear on the religious aspect. We refer to them inasmuch as they have placed us under obligations that should never be forgotten, and form the ground and source of most of the real piety that is in the country. The Church gave us an open Bible, translated by her faithful Bishops and divines. This is the only version used by Welsh-speaking Nonconformists and Churchmen, and is justly regarded as an inestimable boon by both. She supplied us, by a succession of able ministers, with the characteristic mode--the unique model of popular preaching. It is well known that Daniel Rowlands of Llangeitho was a disciple of Griffith Jones of Llanddowror, and Griffith Jones the follower of Vicar Pritchard of Llandovery. These were all celebrated preachers, and their example and methods were followed by all who wished to succeed in the public ministration of the Word. But they themselves only carried on and transmitted to their successors the older traditions of the Church. And this strain of sacred oratory is still prevailing; and whether animated or pathetic, goes straight to the Welshman's heart now as it did of old, when St. [199/200] David and his companions, by their pulpit eloquence, extirpated Pelagianism and vindicated the orthodox creed. She set the example of collecting the young together and teaching them on the Lord's Day. This was begun, long before the venture of Mr. Raikes of Gloucester in the same direction, by Mr. Griffith Jones and his associates in South Wales; and their efforts led eventually to the Sunday-school system, which is at present almost universal among us.*
[* It is acknowledged, even by the partisans of the respective claims of Mr. Raikes and Mr. Charles, of Bala, to be considered as the founders of Sunday-schools, that 'one of Mr. Jones's circulating schools, held at Crawlom, near Llanidloes, developed, as it were, by a mere accident into a Sunday-school in the year 1770' (Mr. D. Evans, M.A., Gelligaer School, author of the 'Sunday-schools of Wales'). But how could that which was undoubtedly included within the professed scope and aim of the founder of the circulating schools, and might be regarded as simply the natural growth and outcome of the whole preliminary process, be called 'a mere accident,' it would be difficult to say. And why confine the number to 'one,' when, for aught that can be shown to the contrary, there might be several such schools. Happily, a new but efficient mode of doing good is contagious, especially when circumstances are favourable. And Mr. Griffith Jones, by his constant inculcation of the practice of catechising and instructing the young, and even adults, on Sundays, combined, as we know it was by him, with the indispensable duty of teaching them to read, created a state of feeling and opinion throughout Wales that was in the highest degree favourable to the formation and multiplication of Sunday-schools.]
But we fear that we have already trespassed too [200/201] much on the reader's patience, and we feel besides that any further treatment of the question would be superfluous. We venture to state conclusively that the parties who assert that the Church of England in Wales is 'an alien' are certainly breaking the ninth Commandment. We do not profess to judge of their motives or objects. But we cannot forget that the ninth Commandment is closely related to the tenth. This is taught us from its position in the Decalogue, as well as from many a lesson in history. We have a significant warning in the case of Naboth the Jezreelite, whose vineyard, 'the inheritance of his fathers,' was seized and appropriated on a false accusation, and the accusation was invented for the express purpose of the robbery. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts, which His right hand has planted, and which heretofore has borne fruit of 'the choicest vine,' is ours, and ours also by right of inheritance, and is in the keeping of England no less than of Wales. May its hedges not be broken down--may its sacred inclosures be not again wasted by the spoiler, as was the case once before in our history, and when the result to our beloved country was nothing but anarchy, irreligion, and incalculable misery.
Since the foregoing was written, the ground of the imputation on the Church in Wales has been entirely [201/202] shifted by its opponents, as is too often the case with eager partisans when they find themselves hopelessly beaten on the line originally chosen, and when in order to cover their retreat and retrieve their character with the public they are driven to expedients which perhaps in their calmer moments, and whilst untrammelled with the inconveniences of hasty and rash assertions, they would be loath to employ, or, at any rate, would be the first to condemn if employed on the other side. A new turn has been given to the discussion, whilst, at the same time, the old formal terms of contention are adroitly retained. It is no longer a matter of historical research, but of sentiment and temperament. We are thus carried into the dangerous region of fantastic speculation, where reason and conscience are discarded, and where conjecture and prejudice being the purveyors, no one needs be ever at a loss to find just what he wants. The alienism complained of is discovered to lie at last in the sphere of supposed innate affinities and antipathies. This reduces the question to the same level as the supposition which is held by some amateurs in natural history that white is intolerable to the elephant, scarlet to the bull, or striped colours to the bird. It is on a par with Sir John Falstaff's fancy as certified by Dame Quickly, 'A could never abide carnation; 'twas a colour he never liked.' It becomes, therefore, a mere opinion which [202/203] cannot be proved, or, if proved, must be put in the category of irrational and unaccountable incidents, undeserving of serious consideration. Though the arraignment in its altered form is an infinitely greater treason against the truth, it yet comprises the same sort of fallacy as that which induces the belief so commonly entertained by superficial observers and disseminated by designing fomenters of disloyalty, that a constitutional Government, with its representative system, its grave and weighty responsibilities, its imperious demands for self-restraint and united and persevering efforts on the part of all for the common good, is utterly unfit for the factious and mercurial Celtic temper. But in the present instance it is, as we intimated, an after-thought, the product of conscious defeat. It is a subterfuge by which the enemy hoped to escape when it was felt that the allegation, as originally made, could not be sustained. It was, indeed, impossible to resist the conviction that the Church which was planted in Wales in the earlier centuries of the Christian era, and has remained here ever since, could not be an alien as to its origin, its duration, or prescriptive rights and privileges. That seems to be now conceded--its continuity and lineal descent from the Church of our forefathers are no longer seriously impugned; but unwilling to confess their discomfiture, our opponents resort to a side-issue, and now inform us that the Church is 'alien to [203/204] the genius and temper of the Welsh race.' When we are accosted by this revised version of the accusation, and when we reflect that it is brought against our hereditary branch of the Church universal, which has been with us, as we said, from the beginning of our existence as a Christian nation, and until the close of the last century was the only institution among us which could possibly claim our allegiance as a Church, and the only medium for preserving and communicating spiritual life and knowledge, words fail us to express our commiseration for our unhappy race if the accusation be true, or, if false, of indignation against the traducers. But the charge has no more real foundation in its present bearing than before. It would be, indeed, strange if it had. For in that case it would upset all reasonable calculations based upon the past, and at the same time assume an incredible revolution in the Welshman's nature, proving, as it would, the children to be totally unlike their fathers, who exhibited for so many successive centuries such strong and consistent attachment to the Welsh Church. It was only, as is well known, under the pressure of despotic power, which really amounted to an atrocious persecution, relentlessly carried on during the whole of Oliver Cromwell's protectorate, that any portion of our countrymen could be detached from it. It was then that sectarianism showed itself among us. And although [204/205] through a variety of causes, some of which may no doubt be traced to a faulty and unsympathetic administration, but many being unavoidable, the sects have multiplied, and during the last century secured to themselves large numbers of adherents, yet it is an acknowledged fact that wherever the Church has been faithfully presented in its reverent ritual, its fundamental doctrines of grace, and its tolerant and beneficent spirit, and served by an active and pious clergy, the Welsh people have never failed to rally back and re-enlist under its standard. But the charge is discredited by the assertors themselves. Else, why exclaim so loudly and so pathetically against the proselytism which is alleged to be carried on by Churchmen, who, it may be observed, if they proselytize, are only following the example of the Nonconformist ministers who have laid themselves out to the same work with such admirable zeal and assiduity? And it may be confidently asserted that if the Church is, indeed, 'alien to the genius and temper of the Welsh race,' all the efforts of Churchmen in that direction must surely be in vain. But it is too well known that the Church is everywhere regaining the lost affections of Welshmen. And it is remarkable that it is in the more Welsh parts, as well as among the more educated classes, that the revival shows itself most conspicuous, and the Church proves itself best adapted to win the enthusiastic devotion of [205/206] the people. There the congregations are the most constant, and the communicants the most numerous. And it is significant, too, that so many ministers of the Nonconformist bodies, who surely know their own countrymen, and can as accurately estimate the stream of religious tendency and the strength of the actual current as any of us, are seeking admission into the Church,* [* 'You would, I am sure, be greatly surprised if I were to give you the numbers of Nonconformist ministers who apply every year to the four Bishops of Wales for admission into the Church, and into Holy Orders.'--The Right Hon. Lord Aberdare in a speech at Aberdare on February 1, 1888.] and offering themselves to the Welsh Bishops for service in their several dioceses.
THE origin of the three sects which prevail in Wales can be accurately traced. The founder of the Independents, or, as they are best known in these days, the Congregationalists, was the Rev. William Wroth, the Rector of Llanvaches, Monmouthshire. He refused to comply with the Royal Proclamation on the lawfulness of sports on Sundays. He was consequently suspended, and in the year 1639 he set up the first Congregational cause at Llanvaches.
The first Baptist congregation was formed in 1649 at Ilston, in the county of Glamorgan.
It was in the year 1811 that the Calvinistic Methodists seceded from the Church and formed themselves into a separate body. The leader in the movement was the Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala.
Elliot Stock, Paternoster Row, London.